Monday, 30 December 2013

Apple Juice Cocktails

If you're hosting a New Year's Eve party this year, have you thought about kicking off the celebrations with cocktails? I have two fantastic cocktails for you, based around apple juice. This post is written for Lathcoats Farm, which is the family apple farm of one of my best friends. They make the most AMAZING apple juice, and if you are ever in the Essex area you should pop in and visit their wonderful farm shop and stop for coffee and cake at their lovely cafe.

apple blossom cocktail, brandy and apple juice

Apple Blossom
This is a lovely fresh cocktail, very simple to make and beautiful in summer or winter.

You will need: (makes one)
2 shots brandy
1 1/2 shots apple juice
Squeeze of lemon juice

Measure all ingredients into a old fashioned glass full of ice.

malabecca, malbeca red wine cocktail with apple juice

We learned to make this cocktail in Argentina at The Argentine Experience, which I highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Buenos Aires. Malbec is the wine of Argentina, although if you don't have this you can substitute it for any other medium red wine, like merlot.

You will need: (makes one)
Juice of half a lime
1/2 shot sugar syrup (caster sugar dissolved in water)
2 shots malbec wine
1/2 shot of Pisco or brandy
2 1/2 shots good quality apple juice

Squeeze or muddle the lime in a cocktail shaker. Add all the other ingredients, fill up the shaker with ice and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a martini or champagne glass.

Wishing you a wonderful new year!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Project Round-up (Part 2)

I hope you are all enjoying the festive celebrations and staying warm!

Here's the second part of my Christmas project round up (first half here), the project links are below the picture.

easy christmas holiday craft ideas with kids, simple projects

Clockwise from top left...

Personalise your Christmas dinner table with homemade Christmas crackers

Add some vintage decoration with a button heart

This silver and gold toilet roll garland is a great craft with kids

Amazingly simple chocolate mints for after dinner treats

Sunday, 8 December 2013

How to make a homemade Christmas wreath

If you are out and about on a wintery walk this month, take a bag and some garden secateurs with you and collect some pretty foliage to make a homemade Christmas wreath.

how to make a Christmas wreath with pine and holly

You will need: 
Cut stems, I have used pine (from the Christmas tree) and holly.
2 wire hangars
Scissors and/or garden secateurs
Decorations such as pine cones, candy canes & ribbon.

Step 1: Bend two wire hangars into a circle, and wrap in sellotape, leaving gaps to hold the stems.

Step 2: Layer your first plant (mine is pine). Trim to shape with the shears, then push the stems between the sellotape and/or hangars.

Step 3: Hold the stems in place with thin wire, twisted around the stems. Trim any excess wire.

Step 4: Layer a second plant (mine is holly)

Step 4: Add any additional decorations, I have used dogrose buds, red bows, mini pine cones and candy canes.

homemade christmas wreath tutorial, instructions

Hang the wreath using the hangar hooks, and ribbon if needed.

Happy Christmas crafting!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Christmas Project Round-up (Part 1)

It's definitely Christmas time again! I'm so excited (as always) and am busy planning some great new xmas crafts and homemade gifts for this year.

Here is some Christmas inspiration for you all - a 2 part round-up of my previous holiday projects. Links are below the picture.

easy christmas holiday craft ideas with kids, simple projects,

Clockwise from top left:

Get everyone involved in making these German paper stars

Stained glass window biscuits make yummy treats or beautiful decorations

Get the kids involved in Christmas shortbread

Homemade orange & cinnamon tree decorations will make a room smell wonderful

Bring in the smells of Christmas with an orange & clove decoration

Learn to crochet and make simple heart decorations for gift wrapping

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies

My crafting has come to a halt recently while we've moved house. Everything is currently in various boxes all over the place, but on the plus side I now have a craft space and a much bigger kitchen for baking projects!

These brownies are the only thing I've made recently, and they were so easy. Literally just the pack of brownie mix (family size, 520g) and the can of pumpkin. I was rather dubious about this combination and it took a while to bake but it really does work. I cooked these at 180C until a toothpick came out clean, about 35 minutes. They are extremely dense and chewy, but I think they must be healthier than traditional ones. Perfect for last minute emergency brownies.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Confetti Cupcakes

Sometimes I see things on Pinterest and think what a wonderful, simple idea it is, and wish I'd thought of it. Putting confetti in cupcakes? Genius. 

The trouble is, you just can't get the beautiful bright nonpareils in the UK anymore so last time I was in the US I made sure to pick some up.

confetti rainbow nonpareils cupcakes recipe

I just used a standard cupcake recipe for these (US and UK recipe here), and added the confetti at the last minute. If you over mix with the sprinkles in, you can end up with a brown mess, so I only put them into sections of the batter at a time. Put in quite a lot, if you don't use enough the effect won't be as good.

As much as I love to decorate with big swirls of piped buttercream icing (instructions here) I actually prefer the taste of simple sugar icing (icing sugar + water). So as I was planning to eat these ALL myself, the sugar icing won.

funfetti cupcakes recipe instructions

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Fruit Gums

I got this recipe from ourbestbites - I admit it was a bit intimidating as I haven't made sweets of this kind before. It does take a while, and I can't say the half an hour of constant stirring was exactly the most exciting part of my day, but it was rather therapeutic :) I enjoyed the "chemistry" part, mixing up different colours and flavours (mine are strawberry, cola and plain) and the result is beautiful looking coloured, sweet, chewey gums.

how to make fruit gums, pastilles, sweets recipe

Monday, 7 October 2013

Candy Cake

I've gone all American on the blog today, and made a candy cake. (I mean a sweet cake to us Brits, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?)

I love this for the novelty factor, but it's also brilliantly practical as you can make it ages before and it was much easier to transport than a real cake. A great one to make with the kids.

cake made from sweets

You will need:
Two or 3 tins
Double sided tape
Assorted sweets and chocolate
Tissue paper to fill in the gaps
A centrepiece for the top

Use two or 3 tins upside-down one on top of each other, taped down with double sided tape. Plan how you will arrange the sweets, then wrap the tins in enough tape to hold the sweets. Stick on the sweets, and fill in the gaps with tissue paper to hide the tins. Tape the centrepiece on top to add height. Eat the leftover sweets!

how to make a candy cake

Monday, 30 September 2013

CraftyWeekend 2nd Birthday

My little blog is 2 years old today! 

This blog is a way for me to record my crafting exploits, and I'm extremely happy if sharing these can give someone else some inspiration to make something, so THANK YOU for visiting.

Here are some of my favourite projects from the last year.

Wedding Present: Scrabble Word Art

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Paper Cutting - instructions and how to make your own template

Chocolate Mendiants - for after dinner treats

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Old recipies

This post is dedicated to those old recipes you've had for years, the hand written ones passed down in your family or collected when you were little, the creased and dogeared ones you've folded and stored in different recipe books and that are covered with various ingredients from the recipe. I bake so many recipes I find online these days, it's good to appreciate the old favourites.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Tomato Tarts

Unfortunately my Stem Ginger Shortbread didn't win any prizes at the county show, however I also entered "6 mini savoury tarts", and these came third! 

So here is the prizewinning recipe...

tomato tart recipe shortcrust pastry instructions

You will need:
For the shortcrust pastry:
125g plain flour
55g cold butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
Approx 30-40ml cold water

For the filling:
800g chopped tomatoes, sived
1 large white onion
Red chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Small handful of thyme, finely chopped
Yellow tomatoes to decorate, optional.

Prepare the pastry - add the butter to the flour and salt, and rub together until you have the texture of messy breadcrumbs. Add the water a little at a time, mixing with a knife until nearly combined. Make the dough into a ball with your hands, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge.

Chop the onions and put them over a medium heat until they are soft. Sieve as much liquid from the chopped tomatoes as possible, and add to the pan. Add the garlic, chilli and thyme and cook on a low heat, stirring occupationally for about 30 mins.

While this is cooking, roll out the pastry, cut with a cookie cutter or glass and place in a cupcake tray. (Pro tip: DON'T have a glass of water nearby that you mistake for an empty glass and pour all over your pastry....) Line the empty pastry cases with baking paper (it helps to scrunch it up first), and fill them with baking beans or rice. Heat the oven to 220C, and bake the empty shells for approx 25 minutes, or until the base looks light and completely cooked and the edges are light brown. Remove the baking beans, add the filling with a slice of yellow tomato on top, and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Here's some photos from the show...

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Pinterest Love: Autumn

I've got a lot of love for Autumn - beautiful walks in the forest as the leaves turn orange, warming up by a country pub fire and of course Halloween. Here's some things inspiring me on Pinterest right now.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

White Chocolate Oreo Pops

I didn't think Oreos could be improved until I saw this on Pinterest. How had I never thought of coating them in chocolate?

chocolate coated oreo lolly

You will need:
1 pack Oreos (double stuff works best)
Good quality chocolate
Lolly sticks
Sprinkles, to decorate

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over hot water, or slowly 10-20 seconds at the time in the microwave, stirring in between. Always melt the last few lumps by stirring, it helps to temper the chocolate if it doesn't get hotter than it needs to.
At first I found it quite difficult to dip the Oreos as the stick is too lose. To fix this, I look each Oreo apart, pushed a stick into the cream and stuck the two halves back together using a little melted chocoalte. This made them a lot stronger and easier to dip. 
Allow the excess chocolate to drip off before placing these down, or if you can wait, allow them to dry while you are holding them.

oreo pops chocolate

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Stitched Cards - Sew Easy Tool

As per usual, I could't resist picking up something new to try last time I was in Hobbycraft. This tool is called "Sew easy" - it's a circular stamp which make holes in different patterns for you to then stitch. I love the idea, can't say it worked that well on card, it made indents and I had to go over it and make the holes with a pin. However you are supposed to do it on a foam surface, and I just used my cutting mat.

I love the simple idea though, and it looks great finished. Next time I'll try some multi-coloured or glittery thread.

I made stitched Christmas cards a while back using a printed pattern, but this is more fun!

sew easy stitched card

stitched handmade wedding card

Friday, 30 August 2013

Wedding Present - Scrabble Word Art

I really like to give friends and family something personal on their wedding day. I had a spare box frame from Ikea and the idea of using scrabble letters to make something personal. Mounting it on the actual Scrabble board worked perfectly, I'm so happy with how it turned out. Each letter is stuck on with double sided tape, and the board is then stuck to the mount.

personalised wedding present scrabble word art

homemade wedding gift, scrabble picture

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Stem Ginger Shortbread

Next month I am entering a "hobbies and handicrafts" competition at a local county show, and one of the categories I have entered is shortbread biscuits. It's difficult to mess with a classic, but I want something that will stand out, so I've tried out this recipe. They taste amazing, but I need to work on getting them more perfectly round!

stem ginger biscuit recipe

You will need:
200g butter, at room temperature if you can remember, I never can!
100g caster sugar
270g plain flour
2 chunks of stem ginger, finely chopped
1 egg while, whisked
Demerara or sanding sugar
Cling film

You can find a UK to US weight conversion tool here

Cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the stem ginger and flour, and mix until combined, don't over mix. Using your hands, get the dough into a ball, and place it onto cling film. Shape into a log, wrap in the cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Whisk the egg white and set the oven to 170C/340F. Once chilled, chop the dough into 1cm biscuits. Dip or brush the edges with egg white and roll in the sugar. Cook for 18 mintutes, or until the edges are slightly brown.

ginger shortbread with sugar crust

stem ginger shortbread

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Crafty Weekend Redesign

Welcome to the all new, hot-off-the-press Crafty Weekend site!

I'll be organising all my old projects by catagory and posting them in the pages above in the coming weeks. This should make things a lot easier to find and browse.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Salted Caramel Brownies

I was a little late to the salted caramel obsession, but I am trying my best to catch up :)

So today I have something very decadent for you all. The flavour and cheweiness of these brownies is just incredible.

You will need:
175g white granulated sugar
10g butter
150ml double cream
1 tsp sea salt (the best sea salt is Maldon, made in the town of Maldon, UK (not that far from me!) since 1882. You can get it internationally on Amazon)

If you already have a favourite brownie recipe, feel free to use that, otherwise you will need:

250g good quality dark chocolate
250g unsalted butter
4 large eggs
300g granulated sugar
150g plain flour
sea salt, for sprinkling

To make the caramel:
Put the sugar in a saucepan and heat until it melts, until you get a medium to dark brown, like a 1p coin. Remove from the heat and add the cream, butter and salt. The mixture will bubble, but return to the heat for a few more minutes, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.

For the brownies:
Heat the oven to 180C and line a 9x9inch (23x23cm) pan with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate over hot water or 10 seconds at a time in the microwave, stirring well between heating. Separately, melt the butter, and mix with the chocolate. Beat the eggs and sugar until foamy (or use an electric whisk). Add the chocolate to the eggs and sugar mixture, then fold in the flour until just mixed.

Pour half of the mixture into the tin, then pour in the caramel. Save a little for the top if you like the top to be more chewy. Add the remaining brownie mixture and any remaining caramel with a little sprinkle of salt on the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until just cooked. Allow to cool for as long as you can wait, cut into squares and enjoy.

salted caramel brownie recipe

If you're looking for other indulgent treats, don't forget to try chewy peanut butter & chocolate chip cookies and creamy, caramel-y banoffee pie.

 photo homeeee_zps214aed0e.jpg
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